As some of your may be aware, Delante is an SEO agency born, raised, and based in Poland, however, with an international outreach. Today, we’ve got a special blog entry – a welcome mat, so to speak, to our own domestic market, that many of you, dear English speakers, may consider a marketing opportunity. Let’s see what works in Polish SEO!
The frame of SEO in Poland
As usual, know the customer. The first thing to deal with, is, as usual when approaching SEO country-wise, is the search engine market shares. When it comes to this, your average Polish user will not surprise you. Google is an absolute leader, leaving any alternative far behind, even beyond the scope of consideration for SEO strategy. Google takes almost all of Polish white-and-red cake – 98,44%, according to StatCounter. Even more so, among the European countries mentioned in the data analyzed and re-published there, Poland is a Google loyalty leader in Europe, followed by Greece (97.66% market share taken by Google).
You may have already painted a sketchy picture of an average Polish user. They may strike you as people of habit. And there seems to be some truth in that. Polish society is generally a homogenous one – in terms of language, but also in a series of diverse social features. A one important conclusion that follows here, is that when building an initial set of keywords to have something to start your SEO process with, they should be primarily in Polish. Apart maybe from IT industry, where English penetration in their everyday life is unique against the general picture, Polish users use Polish Google typing Polish keywords. That is the very first argument for, if not hiring an entire Polish SEO agency, getting yourself at least a Polish-handy copywriter, or a better yet, SEO consultant.
Two important (however, not the only ones) features of Polish language that contribute a world-spread opinion that it’s a nightmare to learn, are diacritics and declension. First one makes writing difficult, the second – can make you feel like you know a word, while, in fact, you do not.
The diacritics of Polish language
Diacritics are symbols that modify the letters from Latin alphabet. They are an integral part of the language, with no apologies. These are: an additional accent symbol ć, ń, ó, ś, ź; the overdot (ż); a tail (ą, ę); or the stroke (ł). The additional symbols modify the sound of the basic letter, and they are required for correct orthography of the text. For spoken language, they are a must, as Polish is quite infused with these.
As for the impact on SEO, the presence of orthographical norms concerning the diacritics make it more difficult to create lists of keywords. For instance, a Polish word for a vascular system is układ krążenia – so, as you can see, there 3 diacritics. Does Google override those differences and consider words spelled with and without diacritics synonyms? There is evidence suggesting that it does not. If a keyword is spelled correctly, there’s a good chance that the user using the query is a local, speaking the tongue as their native.
Declension and Polish language
For instance, in English, you may use the word “dog” in order to simply denote an object – a dog. And if you want to say, that you want to give a bone to a dog, it’s still correct to simply use the name of the species – “dog”. In Polish, the case is different. Depending on what sort of state of the facts is expressed by the sentence, a different suffix needs to be added, sometimes modifying the basic word significantly. A dog is “pies”, but when I want to give a bone to a dog, it’s “psu” – moreover, if “there is a dog”, it’s “pies”, but when “there’s no dog”, it’s “psa”. Tough, isn’t it?
Declension impacts SEO a lot – mostly the keyword creation. A single product or service name can have many keywords that match it. Moreover, simple juxtaposition of the basic (nominative) word forms simply will not do. Maybe for users, but for optimizing – certainly not. For instance, should you want to optimize a landing page for “dog food”, trying to optimize it just like that (in Polish, “jedzenie pies”) will probably result in dubbing your page automatically-made and Google will give you penalty. Even going to a bit more subtle “food for dog” will not be correct, unless you use the right grammatical case (“jedzenie dla psa” but not “jedzenie dla pies”). Using correct preposition will probably confuse you, too, as there’s no a preposition so versatile as English “for” – there are many words instead, usage of which is tied to specific rules, which are full of exceptions, anyway.
Keyword generation is additionally complicated by the synonyms, a situation known however, to any person proficient in English.
The language complexity described only superficially above, makes it almost a natural consequence, that Polish SEO users use long tail queries in on a daily basis. Many products or services have complex proper names – unless the name’s simply taken from English or other language quite straightforwardly. Add the fact that Polish Google users often use full queries in the form of question, as if asking Google HOW TOs – how to install something somewhere, or purchase a product in a certain way, and so on. All these things combined, the result is pretty clear. If you’re thinking of launching a SEO process that targets Poland, prepare your long tail strategy well. And, once more time, get a Polish native speaker on board to deal with all the diacritics, declension, and full sentence construction subtleties that, at the end of the day, will have a huge impact of the efficiency of your SEO process.
Riding the tube in Poland (only one city to do that there, though) shows you this – smartphone in every hand. And that’s something to consider when trying to come up with an efficient SEO strategy for Poland. Almost 65% of the daily usage goes to mobile these days, however, mostly smartphones. Tablets are relatively rarely used – less than 1% of the internet resources usage is linked to that device. Desktop is the rest 34% of the market.
There are certain consequences – having a responsive, mobile friendly website is a must-have. Run this official Google test measuring how mobile friendly your website is. Read the official guidelines for mobile sites’ webmasters, too. Taking care of that brings two things important in Polish internet usage – huge Google prevalence, and the nation’s inclination to access the online resources with their smartphones.
Internet penetration is on average level – in 2016 the rate was 72.4% of the entire population (source). Some call that good, but if assessed against some other Eastern European countries, it’s higher than Ukraine (52%), but close to penetration rate in… Belarus (71.11%), quite close, but still behind Lithuania (74.38%), Czech Republic (76.48%), Slovakia (80.48%) or… Russia (76.41%) – but still distant to Germany (89.65%) and pretty much any country to the West from it (all data taken from this Wikipedia entry). Those data clearly show that there is an online market in Poland, and Polish SEO should be considered an opportunity.
On top of that, the word is that understanding of SEO among the Polish CEOs or executive boards is still relatively low. Therefore, this mix results in relatively good internet penetration, promising mobile marketing opportunities, and perhaps competition that will not make you all that difficult to rank high in Google. If that’s not an opportunity, I have no idea what is.
Moreover, if you have a budget for that, building your own app to secure customers’ loyalty works, too, if the digital product in question, brings value in its own respect. It may not be SEO strictly speaking, but surely can work wonders when it comes to online marketing.
Selected Polish SEO process elements
A one consequence of relatively good internet penetration and relatively low SEO awareness is that few websites have the essential on-site optimizations in place. Therefore, a thorough SEO audit, covering anything relevant to SEO, from on-page details, to the backlink situation analysis, should definitely be the first step. And shortly after that, the needs for essential on-site optimizations should be determined, lined up and applied. Often this alone is a game changer for how a website ranks in Google. Correct on-page SEO is able to work wonders in Polish online setting, taking a website from a bottomless pit of 10+ SERP pages, to the TOP10. Don’t forget therefore the tags: title, H1, H2, alt image descriptions, a reasonable use of <strong> and <em>, not to get busted as a keyword-stuffer.
Directory Submissions used to be one of the cornerstones of Polish SEO – now, after several updates that took place from 2013, they still remain to be a pillar, albeit a bit shaky one. In Poland, in contrary to what’s been observed in, say, UK or Germany, getting your entry to an online directory of business websites is relatively easy. In fact, most of them are overtly SEO-focused – such as the (in)famous SEOKatalog template.
Another Polish Directory Submission feature is that getting the very basic entry there is relatively cheap – the cost is about 1 EUR. However, most of the directories do not accept entries written in anything else than quality Polish. Only few will welcome your English-written business description, and if you’re thinking of Google-Translating your copy, there’s a chance that you’ll be denied by the moderation.
These two reasons of directory submissions – them being easy and budget-friendly – resulted a couple of years ago in a widespread SEO practice of submitting links and descriptions to dozens of directories, one after another. Nowadays to blindly tap into this M.O. is to ask for trouble – your rankings may, instead of going up, go down, as many of shining SEO stars of the yesteryear have been dubbed by Google as link farms.
Therefore, when it comes to directories, in order for the submissions to comprise a legitimate SEO process, the catalogs need to be of quality. In order to determine, whether the directory you’re dealing with is a quality one, first and foremost check is it’s indexed in Google.
If an attempt to find the directory on the 1st SERP page using the home page’s title, this means Google has given the site a penalty. Also, the update frequency matters, too – the freshest the update is, the better. Look for information, whether the submissions are human-reviewed and/or edited, too. Don’t trust a directory, unless it’s the humans that decide whether a link should be included there, or not.
Directory Submissions have lost a huge part of their importance in SEO, while other ways of SEO copywriting have been trending for some time. The methods are:
- Sponsored articles – are articles written by a pro copywriter, rich in valuable content, of preferably 0% duplicate content, maybe apart of the occasional Steve Jobs quote, published in a respected portal including a link to your website. The purpose is to tap into a stream of an undoubtedly valuable content, and include a link to your site as an extra to a quality piece of content. However covert this type of online marketing is, sponsored articles should always be marked as such.
- Blogs – writing your own blog with frequent, regular, quality entries full of technical knowledge and a vivid interaction with the readers helps you build your brand – not only the customers’ eyes, but Google’s, too. As your blog becomes more trusted source of content, the more valuable will be in links you include in your entries to your SEO process.
- Guest posting – this methods makes a use of an existing blog network; by getting either a valued blogger to post on your own blog, or your piece to be published in someone else’s, you sort grant the trademark as quality assurance. The content is therefore interpreted as quality by Google, and hence the mandatory link will do your SEO much good.
In all of the methods suggested above, content quality is job one now. As Google gets more semantic, refining its algorithms to determine whether website content is human-authored and therefore worthy of ranking higher, a sensible investment in SEO is tantamount, and implies, investments in quality content.
With strong mobile devices presence, explorations of cities with smartphones serving as guides and directories of offers, products and services is something you need to expect. This points out clearly to local SEO as being your chance of entering the Polish online market fast. To make sure that your website is optimized in terms of local SEO, check out the near-perfect checklist from Prague’s GFluence:
In order to establish a good visibility there, a less technical and more social-media-oriented approach towards link may be assumed. Use social media extensively, not only those allowing you to link to places (like Facebook, unarguably the leader of social media market in Poland), but also those that yield mentions only, such as Instagram. Even without linking, social media activities will boost the effectiveness of links placed anywhere else.
However strongly I’ve emphasized a beginner status of Polish users in terms of SEO, the changes are coming of course. Agencies of seasoned experts, succeeding not only on their domestic market, but also numerous foreign ones (here’s one[link:delante.co], they just kill the game) make it increasingly difficult to secure the highest rankings in no time. Soon the situation may change, and who know, maybe Polish online market will prove to be one of the most demanding there are? It may become true for promising industries, like IT, who show no SEO illiteracy and are willing to invest in long term online marketing tools and strategies.